MoJ to challenge decision to release child killer Colin Pitchfork

Ministry of Justice will challenge Parole Board’s decision to release child killer Colin Pitchfork who raped and murdered two schoolgirls in 1980s

  • Pitchfork jailed after strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth
  • The Parole Board said he was ‘suitable for release’, despite being denied before
  • Ministry of Justice said it would officially appeal against the decision on Monday

The Ministry of Justice has said it will challenge the Parole Board’s decision to allow the release of double child killer Colin Pitchfork.

Pitchfork was jailed for life after strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

Following a hearing in March, the Parole Board said he was ‘suitable for release’, despite being denied parole in 2016 and 2018.

Mugshot of Colin Pitchfork, the first murderer convicted and jailed using DNA evidence, who was given a 30 year minimum sentence in 1988 for raping and murdering fifteen year old Leicestershire schoolgirls Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth

Victims: Furious relatives of the two schoolgirls murdered by a notorious paedophile have condemned a decision to let him go free. Left: Lynda Mann, right: Dawn Ashworth

The MoJ said it would officially appeal against the decision on Monday.

A spokesperson said: ‘Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth.

‘After a careful review, the Lord Chancellor will ask the Parole Board to reconsider its decision.’

Pitchfork, who was in his 20s at the time of the attacks, became the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence and was jailed for life at Leicester Crown Court in 1988.

He was sentenced to serve a minimum of 30 years.

Pitchfork pleaded guilty to two offences of murder, two of rape, two of indecent assault and one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. His minimum term was cut by two years in 2009.

The double child killer snared by DNA who terrified the community

The crimes of Colin Pitchfork created terror in the local communities where he had struck. 

On November 22, 1983, the body of 15-year-old Lynda Mann was found raped and strangled on a deserted footpath running between a cemetery and a psychiatric hospital in the Leicestershire village of Narborough.

Almost three years later, in July 1986, the body of another 15-year-old, Dawn Ashworth, from nearby Enderby, was found in almost identical circumstances in a wooded area, less than a mile from the scene of Lynda’s murder.

The dead girl had been taking a shortcut home from school instead of her usual route, but there can be little doubt that her assailant, believing he had ‘got away with it’ once, was on the look-out for other teenagers to assault, terrorise and murder in the same way.

Initially, a local man confessed to the second murder and his blood was found to be the same group as blood found at the scene. There can be no doubt that had it not been for advances in science, he would have been convicted while Colin Pitchfork remained free.

However, two years later, semen samples found at the crime scenes were used to match the DNA of Pitchfork, a baker and convicted flasher.

He became the first criminal in the world to be convicted based on DNA fingerprinting, following the first mass screening of 5,000 men in three neighbouring villages.

After his arrest he confessed to his crimes and when asked why he is said to have shrugged to detectives and said: ‘Opportunity. She was there and I was there’. 

He was given life and a minimum sentence of 30 years, reduced to 28 years on appeal, which he has now served.

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